"Your pain is breaking the shell that envelops your own understanding." ~ Khalil Gibran
There was a time in my life where I felt that everything was needed to look alright.
I had a problem in achieving emotional proximity in my relationships, I was unsatisfied in my career, and I fought with sometimes severe anxiety and depression. But I was always "okay", and really went too far to hide any sign I was not.
I was busy to avoid being laughing because I did nothing to do or maybe avoid the feelings that would arise if I had nothing to do. If I felt insecure or unhappy with something, I would just have been lying and trying to hide it instead of recognizing that there was a problem.
Do I feel alone and do not listen to my friendships? Well, everyone else seems to be OK, so I'll pretend to be myself. Uncomfortable feelings? Push them down and always ignore them. And if someone did something to hurt or offend me, I never said anything, because I was not able to stand for myself or set limits.
I still try to understand the origin of these emotions, but for me, I have been involved in generations of family trauma and injuries, and I realize I am bisexual. She also received the message, implicitly and sometimes explicitly, that as a woman, it was not okay for me to talk and get up for myself.
Actually, at some point, I thought my real feelings were not acceptable.
And the reality is, she was incredibly lonely. This perception left me incapable of truly connecting with anyone, because I felt like they did not like my real. But everyone else seemed to be nice, so I pushed down who I was and my own personality to be who I thought I should be fit.
I think we all struggle with it to some extent. Everyone has strange habits and secrets that they hold for themselves. But for some of us, we feel that something is basically wrong with us, as if people saw our true self, we would not like it. And so we hide and act in ways we think we must "act" to look like everyone else.
The problem with this is that it makes life much more complicated when you have to suppress your reaction or feelings, think about it and then do what you suppose that other people would do in your case.
I was always trying to conceal and minimize any discomfort, pretending to have felt more comfortable in my relationships than I did and was happier with my life than I was. Not that the people around me were not wonderful people, but I never felt like I was or I knew.
In fact, at the beginning of my 20s, I had everything I wanted – a college degree, my own place, a relationship, great friends and a job with a prestigious company. And I was not happy. Or maybe there was a piece of me that was not fulfilled. Everything in my life was great, but I just did not feel it.
The problem of always being "okay" is that at some point you just can not do it anymore. And it was no wonder, it came a point when my life fell.
I experienced unemployment, a series of failed romantic relationships and health issues, including disrupted eating. In many ways, my life is still "special". Making changes involves a lot of yoga, meditation and emotional work, even individual trips. It was tough and painful, and I lost my relationship.
But the truth is that this previous "I" was like a house of cards, or perhaps a home with a cracked foundation. I have pushed many things down, I never stood for myself or expressed my real feelings or needs, or even had some idea of what these were – and that was simply not a viable way of life.
The most important step I did and which I think everyone can take, eventually stops and recognizes when things are not okay. We can not correct what we will not recognize and it is impossible to make changes if we refuse to admit that nothing is wrong.
If life did not give me the chaos I was doing, I would keep pushing my way, pushing unwanted feelings and avoiding dealing with them, and also avoiding the growth, connection and happiness that came from the reality I was seeing my fears and feelings, and working through them with other people.
Before, I had been dealing with the clearly defective assumptions that any differences or unique qualities I had, such as my sensitivity and introvert, the intense nature – or, you know, things that make me human – was shameful and bad and must have been covered, that I was "very sensitive," and that being hasty was definitely a taboo. And above all, I never have to admit it if I needed help. So, I just went with what life gave me and I tried to get to the best possible.
I learn to sit down with difficult emotions and situations and try to understand them instead of running away from them.
I'm also working on communicating with people when I was troubled. Sometimes they have no idea and promise to make sure it will not happen again. But if they do not care, this is something that I also need to know. And instead of delivering my unceasing need to join and be like everyone else, I just try to be honest and to be myself.
Finally, instead of running, I try to recognize when life is not good. Because I recognize this and understand what unpleasant feelings I have to teach, it is the only way to do something better.